Putting an end to a nine-day battle, which left about 20 million homes with less than a dozen popular channels to watch, Cable programming giant Viacom, Inc. (NASDAQ:VIA) (NASDAQ:VIAB), and satellite broadcaster DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV), reached a deal today. With the dispute ending, all 26 Viacom Networks channels will be back on the satellite network. The 26 Viacom networks includes Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, BET, CMT, Logo, Spike, TV Land, MTV2, VH1, VH1 Classic, Palladia, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, TeenNick, Tr3s, and Centric. DirecTV Subscribers have been without all these networks and others for a week.
DirecTV executive vice president, Derek Chang, said, "We are very pleased to be able to restore the channels to our customers, and thank them for their unprecedented patience and support. The attention surrounding this unnecessary and ill-advised blackout by Viacom has accomplished one key thing: it serves notice to all media companies that bullying TV providers and their customers with blackouts won't get them a better deal," he said and added that "it's high time programmers ended these anti-consumer blackouts once and for all, and prove our industry is about enabling people to connect to their favorite programs rather than denying them access."
Viacom comments on the deal: "Despite the unnecessary drama, we are very pleased with our agreement and are very thankful to have reconnected with our DirecTV viewers."
The dispute was related to the fees that Viacom was asking for its programming, which were considered unfair by DirecTV. DirecTV claimed that Viacom was unfair in asking to increase its carriage fees by 30 percent. The dispute had proved out to be a costly one for Viacom, as ratings for many of its networks registered more than 20 percent decline. Its competitors were quick to latch on to the opportunity, as Disney Channel and other rival networks poached viewers from its popular Nickelodeon network which was blacked out during the battle.
As a part of the agreement, DirecTV customers will be able to watch Viacom programming on "tablets, laptops, handhelds and other personal devices" through its DirecTV Everywhere platform. The company also revealed that "carriage of the Epix movie channel is not required as part of the new agreement," meaning it will remain as an optional add-on for its customers.